Tacos El Charro US Map & Phone & Address

349 Centre St. Jamaica Plain; (617) 522-2578

Here’s the kind of place you’d find if you were actually in Mexico looking for an informal kitchen that just served up good home cooking. It’s a very different experience from most of the other Tex-Mex restaurants in Boston.

A TV plays Spanish programs in the comer. The walls are decorated with a few pieces of Mexican folk art, but this is not a place for atmosphere just great food. It is clear immediately that each dish has been prepared to order not stamped out on an assembly line. And the service is relaxed and friendly.

Mine particularly enjoyed the sopes ($3.95), fried dough shaped into a cup to hold a tasty mixture of beans and ground beef, with lettuce and cheese on top. Tacos ($1.60 each) come filled with beef, chicken, beef tongue, goat meat, or pork with pineapple (surprise this is spicy!). Combine any two with rice, beans, and salad for $5.95.

The fajitas are delicious. Chicken ($5.95) and beef ($7.95) are entrees in themselves, or great for splitting. By the way, the salsa (mild or hot) and guacamole are homemade, chunky, and first-rate.

For something a little different, try the Plato Montanero ($7.95), a stew of beans, pork, and beef served over rice. Avocado and plantains are added on the side. For dessert, vanilla flan ($2.50) is the obvious choice.

Tacos el Charro does not have a liquor license, so don’t expect to wash this meal down with a marga-rita. Fortunately, there are several other delicious options, including a non-alcoholic sangria ($1.50). Best bet, though, is the virgin pina colada, made sweet with chunks of real pineapple. A tall glass is $2. They’ll also whip up a fruit milkshake, also $2, that can go with the meal or be a dessert Open seven days.

NORTH END Artu

6 Prince St. Boston; (617) 742-4336 Cozy Artu’s front windows display several delicacies of the day before you even go in. Once inside, you’ll find a surprising depth to a restaurant that appears small from the street matched by a menu that manages to be both simple and exotic.

A local merchant had recommended the place to Mine as a good value, and it’s easy to see why. A dozen pasta dishes beckon, notably fusilli sauteed with chicken and mustard greens, and homemade mac-cheroni with pancetta, onions, and fresh tomato (each $8.50). Eggplant parmigiana is just $5.95. Even roasted leg of lamb, which can get pricey, checks in at $9.95 and that includes peppers, marinated eggplant, and potatoes.

For the same great cooking on a tighter budget yet, sandwiches of roast lamb, pork, chicken, and others all range from $4-$5. Several salads come in under $4, and an extensive wine list assures proper refreshment. Arrive between 10 a.m. and 4 P.M. and order from a lunch menu where all pasta dishes are under $7 and all sandwiches are under $5. Admirably, the prices flourish in an atmosphere of elegance which might seem to demand much more of an investment, but doesn’t. Open til 11 rm. seven days.

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